Injured in a VRBO Overseas?

Our personal injury attorneys can help you with your VRBO injury case.

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What Happens if I’m Injured at a VRBO Outside of the US?

Online vacation rental platforms such as VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) have leveraged the power of the internet to help travelers connect with people who want to rent vacation properties.

VRBO was started in 1995 by retired teachers Dave and Lynn Crouse. Initially, the website was simply meant to help the Crouses rent out their ski condo. Eventually, other homeowners begin asking to also list their vacation rentals on the website. The site grew extensively, and today it lists more than 2 million vacation rentals all over the world.

Although VRBO and similar websites are great for travelers, there is always a chance that a guest could be injured at a VRBO property. If this happens outside of the U.S., an unfamiliar legal system can make the situation more complicated. It is a good idea to consult with a professional attorney who can help pursue a personal injury claim overseas. 

Understanding Your Rights as a Traveler

A VRBO renter’s legal rights depend on the laws of the country where the property they rent is located. This means, among other things, that a traveler will need to follow local court rules when it comes to filing a lawsuit for a personal injury that happens while staying at a vacation rental. Local laws also can limit the amount of damages allowed for an injury. 

VRBO has some responsibility in ensuring guest safety in the short-term rentals listed on its website. It is unclear what types of pre-screening checks the company performs before allowing property owners and managers to list their rentals on the website. 

However, the company does provide liability insurance for property owners for up to $1,000,000.  If a guest is injured at a property listed on VRBO, the property owner’s liability for damages would be paid out by the insurer up to this amount.

Common Causes of Injuries at VRBO Properties

While staying at a VRBO property, one never knows what could happen that may result in being injured. The following are some common types of accidents.

Slipping and Falling

Probably the most common type of injury at a VRBO property is a slip-and-fall accident. This can happen as a result of loose carpet or rugs, chipped tiles, poorly maintained stairways, uneven flooring, wet floors, or any condition that may cause guests to take a tumble. 

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another common injury that can occur at VRBO properties. The property owner must eliminate any carbon monoxide leaking from appliances or other devices. This is particularly important, as carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly.

Allergens and Mold

Breathing in mold and allergens can result in VRBO guests becoming sick. The property owner has a duty to resolve issues involving mold and other allergens for the safety of guests.

Bed Bugs

Travelers staying at VRBO properties should be careful of bed bugs. Although the bed bug bites may only result in small marks on the skin, in some cases they can cause serious allergic reactions or even anaphylaxis. The property owner is responsible for removing bed bug infestations and may be held liable if he or she fails to do so.

Electrical Hazards

Guests at VRBO properties could also be injured by electrical hazards, which can result in electric shocks, burns, or fires. If a property owner fails to maintain the electrical infrastructure of the building, he or she could be legally at fault if something happens that injures a guest. 

Immediate Actions Following an Injury

If one does sustain an injury while staying at a VRBO property domestically or overseas, they should immediately take the following steps to protect their rights and improve their chances of receiving an adequate damages award in a lawsuit. 

Seek Medical Care and Obtain Medical Reports

It is important to immediately seek medical care, not only to protect one’s physical health, but also to document the extent of any injuries. In that regard, after receiving medical treatment, obtain copies of the medical reports. These can help determine the amount of damages awarded in a personal injury claim.

Report Injury to Property Owner and VRBO

Immediately report the injury to the property owner and VRBO in writing. This will also create a record. You can contact VRBO through their customer support line by calling 1-877-202-4291.

Duty of Care for VRBO

VRBO has some responsibility to keep the users of its platform safe, such as by screening hosts properly. However, the owner of a VRBO property has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that their short-term vacation rental is safe for guests. 

Therefore, a traveler who suffers an injury while staying at a VRBO property will not be suing VRBO itself, but instead will file a lawsuit against the property host.

Proving Host Liability

A VRBO host’s liability must be proven for a successful lawsuit. It is up to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the host’s negligence played a role in causing the accident that resulted in the guest being injured. 

As a result, the plaintiff must gather any documentation or other evidence related to the injury and the circumstances that caused it. In particular, they should:

  • Take pictures and video where the incident happened to show anything related to the local conditions that might have caused it 
  • Take photos of the injury itself 
  • Obtain copies of communications with the property owner and Airbnb, as well as medical records related to the injury 
  • Gather statements from anyone who may have seen the incident, as well as anyone with knowledge of the conditions that might have caused it 

Overcoming Challenges in International Personal Injury Claims

Any personal injury claim has its challenges, but when the injury occurs overseas, it can make things even trickier. 

A large part of the challenge with international personal injury claims is dealing with the other country’s legal system, which can be quite different from that in the U.S. For example, personal injury laws in another country may not allow the same legal strategies. Also, the court rules and litigation processes will likely be significantly different. 

Other potential difficulties include language barriers and time zone differences, which can make negotiations difficult and inconvenient. Although all of these challenges can be overcome, collectively they make an international VRBO personal injury claim significantly more complicated than a domestic claim.

Compensation and Settlements

Plaintiffs in a personal injury lawsuit may be awarded two different types of damages: compensatory and punitive.

  • Compensatory damages are meant to compensate for actual damages a plaintiff suffered as a result of the injury.
  • Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and discourage others from acting similarly.

How an Attorney Can Help With an Overseas VRBO Personal Injury Claim

A competent attorney will be able to evaluate the merits of an international VRBO personal injury claim. The attorney will look at the facts of the case, the evidence available, and the nature and seriousness of the injury. 

Based on this information, the attorney can estimate how much one should expect to receive from the property owner’s liability insurance provided by VRBO. The attorney can also look into whether it makes sense to file a claim with the property owner’s homeowner’s insurance as well. 

A personal injury attorney can also negotiate with the insurance provider, and VRBO to obtain the highest possible payout for damages. If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, the attorney can file a lawsuit and represent their client in court to fight for a larger damages award, perhaps with assistance from local counsel in the other country. 


Does VRBO have liability insurance that could provide a payout for damages?

Yes. VRBO provides property owners with liability insurance of up to $1 million, which could be used to compensate an injured guest.

However, VRBO’s host liability insurance policy, the Rental Property Liability Insurance Program, does have some exclusions that would make a personal injury claim not applicable. One exclusion includes properties that are operating in violation of local ordinances against short-term rental units. Other exceptions are injuries caused by a host furnishing alcohol to guests, involving vehicles, caused by pollutants within certain circumstances, and more.

Can a plaintiff file a personal injury lawsuit in a U.S. court when the incident happened overseas?

Generally, no. The plaintiff will have to file the personal injury lawsuit in the court system of the country where the injury occurred. However, since VRBO is a US-based company, they can be sued within the United States even if the damages occurred overseas.
and the applicable laws of the jurisdiction in which the personal injury lawsuit is filed.

Is a negotiated settlement in an international VRBO personal injury case  better than a lawsuit?

It depends on the situation. If a settlement offer is significantly lower than your actual damages, then the injured party may want to explore the option of filing a lawsuit. If the potential award that can be realistically expected from a lawsuit is more than the offer, moving forward with litigation may be a good idea, as long as one is ready to go through a contentious litigation process. 

Schedule Your Free Attorney Consultation for Your VRBO Personal Injury Claim

If you have been injured while staying at a VRBO vacation rental overseas, you may be eligible to receive monetary compensation for the damages you have suffered. Find out if you have a strong case by consulting with one of our attorneys with experience in international personal injury lawsuits. 
The consultations will always be completely confidential with advice tailored to your particular circumstances. The best part of all is that the consultation is completely free of charge. Contact us now.

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